BOSTON – Chris Sale was aced out of an opportunity to pitch in the All-Star Game in Cincinnati last season, primarily because he threw 115 pitches against the Cubs three days before. White Sox manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper preferred he not pitch on two days rest on All-Star Tuesday, citing caution and looking out for the left-hander’s health.
Fast forward to 2016 and it appears Sale would not only have more rest before the All-Star Game in San Diego on July 12 but could very well start it for the first time. Sale is 12-2 with a 2.83 ERA with 102 strikeouts, leading the AL in wins and sitting – with more than half the season left — as the early Cy Young favorite.
“I would definitely appreciate it but there is a lot of time before then,’’ Sale said Thursday. “You’re talking chickens before they hatch. That’s too soon for me, and there’s still work to be done before we start talking about that.’’
If Sale takes his turn every fifth game between now and then, he’ll make three more starts, the last on Friday, July 8, against the Atlanta Braves at U.S Cellular Field. That would give him three days rest before the mid-summer classic.
“Would it be cool? Yeah, but it’s not anything that drives me,” Sale said. “It’s fun. The whole experience is fun and I’ve always enjoyed it, that quick shot of adrenaline.’’
Sale was an All-Star in each of his four seasons as a starting pitcher. He was the winning pitcher with two perfect innings at Citi Field in New York in 2013 and likely would have been the MVP had it not been Mariano Rivera night in New York his final season.
Sale could be the only Sox to make the AL team. Outfielder Melky Cabrera is 15th in fan voting, and no other position players are in the top five. Voting continues through next Thursday, and rosters will be announced on July 3.
How tough was it?
Adam Eaton called the Sox’ 10-26 stretch that preceded their three straight victories against the Red Sox in Boston this week “the toughest month of my big league career for the team as a whole.’’
That it came after a 23-10 start only made it worse.
“We started so well together, faltered so much,’’ Eaton said Thursday. “So many changes in the lineup and throughout the clubhouse so it’s been really difficult to find our bearings. This is a good team we have, and when we do find our bearings we’ll do good things. Sometimes as a team you have to take a step back to step forward. You have to learn as a team to find out what type of team you are and when you’re struggling how to get through it.’’